BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Amherst College sophomore Andy Kay (No. Easton, Mass.) half-volleyed his second goal of the game into the Plymouth State net with 5:05 remaining in the game, lifting the fourth-seeded Lord Jeffs to a 3-2 victory in the NCAA Division III New England men's soccer regional championship game. Amherst -- which wins the regional championship for the first time in school history -- will now host Ithaca (N.Y.) College on Saturday at noon in Amherst, Mass., in the national quarterfinals.
Plymouth State (14-3-2), which entered the tournament as the second seed, jumped on the board with less than six minutes gone in the game as senior striker Brett Scaccia (Exeter, N.H.) soared into the penalty area and nodded home a cross from Milton Medeiros (Santa Cruz, Bolivia). Amherst (11-4-2) answered less than seven minutes later when Devin Talbott (Washington, D.C.) curved a corner kick to the Plymouth State six-yard box where Mike Sullivan (Andover, Mass.) deposited it for the 1-1 tie.
The Lord Jeffs took the momentum eight minutes before the half as Kay took advantage of another corner kick -- Amherst held a 14-3 advantage in corner kicks for the game -- when he headed the ball just out of the reach of Plymouth State keeper Magnus Karlsson (Vasteras, Sweden) and into the top netting. Nate MacDonald (Burnsville, Minn.) picked up the assist.
Scaccia solidified his lead in the Panthers record books when he blasted his 26th goal of the season to equalize the game at 2-2 with six minutes left in the first frame. Medeiros passed a ball to Scaccia who was posted up at the 18-yard line. He then turned and blasted a lefthanded bomb that ended up in the side netting of the Amherst goal. Scaccia ends his career second on the goals scored (63) and points (139) lists at Plymouth.
The two teams headed to the half tied at two although Amherst held an advantage in shots (10-4) and corner kicks (9-1).
Both teams had chances in the second half, but neither scored and overtime seemed imminent as the clock dipped below six minutes left. Amherst was awarded a throw-in near the endline and Tim Christian (Agawam, Mass.) lofted a throw into the penalty area where Kay sunk the game-winner.
"I felt as though we had the better of play," said Amherst Head Coach Peter Gooding, who has returned to the team after an eight-year hiatus to help tie the record for most wins in a season. "We knew we were going to have to work hard against Plymouth's zone defense, and we did, so it was just a matter of time before we put one in."
"Scaccia is a fine player," continued Gooding, "and he scored two beautiful goals. We tightened up our defense on him in the second half and that was key. Plymouth is the most mature team tactically that we have played this year and they played a great game."
"This is one of the best games I have seen in a while," said Plymouth State Head Coach Shawn Griffin. "Both teams played well. We looked a little sluggish but Amherst is a very well organized and aggressive team and they played outstanding today. I know they will reperesent New England well."
Amherst advances to the quarterfinal round of the tournament for the first time after playing in two other regional championships. This team also sets the school mark for most NCAA wins with three.
at Brunswick, Maine Amherst (11-4-2) 2 1 -- 3 Plymouth State (14-3-2) 2 0 -- 2 Scoring: PS, Brett Scaccia (Milton Medeiros) 5:49, A, Mike Sullivan (Devin Talbott) 13:30, A, Andy Kay (Nate McDonald) 37:35, PS, Scaccia (Medeiros, Simon Sendowski) 39:13, A, Andy Kay (Matt Diggs) 84:55. Saves: A, Kevin Larner 4; PS, Magnus Karlsson 9. Shots: Amherst, 20-9. Corners: Amherst, 14-3Taken from a Bowdoin College release